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If we think of dog food, it’s easy to think of animal feed and the different varieties of canned wet food. Our accelerated pace of life pushes us today to seek to feed our dogs as quickly and comfortably as that which allows to open a packaging or a box and to put the ready food in the manger. But is industrialized food the best option?
In this ‘ Pets Feed ‘ article, we will talk about the benefits of homemade dog food, the food they can eat and the different forms of presentation. We can therefore choose, with all the information, how to feed our partner.
The basics of dog food
Dogs have fewer taste buds than humans, but it is thought that they can distinguish between flavors such as sweet, sour, bitter and salty. In addition, they are able to establish preferences or animations marked by certain foods, which we must take into account when developing their menu. This must be balanced and for this it must include the ten amino acids considered essential for the dog because it is not able to synthesize them. Thus, it will be essential that the dog eats them in its daily diet. In this sense, a good combination will be one that mixes proteins of vegetable origin with others of animal origin, because this is what will guarantee the presence of all amino acids. This is fundamental, because if the dog has deficiencies in these essential amino acids, it can manifest developmental alterations, anemia or problems with the immune system.
On the other hand, a balanced diet must include adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins to ensure optimal health. Likewise, it is important to keep in mind that each dog is different and, therefore, it is advisable to adapt the diet to each case. For example, growing animals or pregnant or lactating females have higher protein requirements. Dogs with illnesses will also need an adjustment to their ration.
As for the foods themselves which must compose their diet, it should be emphasized that, although being an optional omnivorous animal due to the evolution of the species after domestication, meat and fish remain the pillar. In this way, experts recommend that 70 to 80% of the food be allocated to these products, and the remaining 30 to 20% is divided between fruits, vegetables and cereals, since these are also foods that the body the dog needs to stay healthy.
Benefits of natural dog food
After having reviewed the general considerations to take into account when establishing food, we see how among the advantages of homemade dog food is the possibility of choosing the foods with which we will compose the menu. However, this is not the only advantage and then we explain the rest:
By selecting the ingredients ourselves, we make sure to use quality food and establish the percentages of each product perfectly suited to our dog.
As we said, thanks to a homemade dog food, we can guarantee that all the essential amino acids that his digestive system is not able to synthesize are present.
We offer the animal a diet without processed or very little processed ingredients, which results in an improvement of its general health by ingesting completely natural products. Indeed, food is less processed, nutrients are much better, are easier to assimilate and contain practically no artificial chemicals, in some cases these are nonexistent.
By including fresh and natural meats, fish, fruits or vegetables, the dish is much more appetizing for the dog.
It is much more digestible due to all of the above, because the use of products adapted to the needs of the dog, fresh, quality and natural allows his body to assimilate them without problem.
It allows us to establish a variable and complete menu, so that the animal does not get bored of always eating the same or has nutritional deficiencies.
Besides the high nutritional value of homemade dog food, having our best friend enjoy eating the foods he loves is one of the biggest benefits for dogs and humans.
How to find balance in homemade dog food?
In order to reap the full benefits of homemade dog food, we must keep in mind that not everyone has the same nutritional needs, as we have already mentioned. Thus, we will distinguish infants, puppies, adults, pregnant females, lactating females, geriatric and sick. Another factor to consider is the size of the dog, as puppies of larger breeds will be healthier with slow growth. In all cases, it is advisable to consult our veterinarian before any modification of his diet.
Then we will see the general considerations we need to keep in mind depending on the age or condition of our dog:
A mother at the time of delivery should consume 1.5 times her usual ration.
Growing animals need more protein and calories than adults. While it is possible that if we keep the protein in the adult dog’s diet high, this is not a problem, if the caloric intake does not decrease, we will end up having an obese adult.
Puppies up to 6 months old require twice as many calories per kg of weight as adults.
In old age, fewer calories are needed, about 30% less than in young people. Additionally, at this point, it may be beneficial to include vitamins such as E, C and selenium in the dog’s natural diet, due to its antioxidant effect.
On the other hand, for food, we will also take into account the level of activity displayed by the dog in his daily life. For example, a dog can exercise a lot of fat, while a dog with a more sedentary lifestyle should control its consumption very well.
And finally, prices should never exceed 5-10% of the recommended daily calories. Remember that positive reinforcement can also be done with hugs, words of encouragement or games.
For healthy adult dogs, the key to finding balance in homemade food is knowing the animal. In this way, we advise you to try and experiment to find the right quantities for your dog, detect the foods he likes best and how to combine them.
Nutritional needs of dogs
In order for our dog to benefit from homemade and natural food, we must take into account the approximate percentage of nutrients he needs for an adult dog with normal activity:
- 26% protein
- 36% carbohydrates
- 38% fat
Of course, these percentages are entirely indicative, because we will have to adapt them to the lifestyle, size, age or condition of the dog. As we said, a dog who does little exercise should consume less fat, while a dog who does sport can increase this amount. Again, knowing our dog is the most important thing in providing him with the best food.
As for the number of daily intakes or rations, it will also depend on each dog, since some tend to eat once a day while others prefer to do it two or three times. Now, if we have just adopted a puppy, it is advisable to divide the food into several meals spread throughout the day. Of course, in all cases, it is essential to leave fresh and clean water always available.
Good dog food
A balanced diet based on good quality proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals will bring all the benefits of homemade dog food. We can choose between the following ingredients, as an example, because there are many alternatives:
Among the proteins we can find those of animal origin, such as veal, chicken, lamb or fish, which should form the basis of the dish, and vegetables such as corn, soy or wheat.
The carbohydrate group also includes corn and wheat, rice, oats, etc. Here, the fiber is introduced, which is not digested but facilitates intestinal transit. Emphasizes beets, chicory, yam or bran.
Lipids or fats, like proteins, can also be animals or vegetables, like those obtained from seeds.
Vitamins and minerals will be present in a different percentage in all foods. Just check how much, in case you need to supplement or increase the dose, and make sure they don’t inhibit each other. Featured sources are liver, dairy, or yeast.
Foods such as legumes, eggs, fruits or vegetables can be given as a supplement.
It is important that we consult our veterinarian when developing our dog’s house diet to ensure that all of his needs are well covered.
How to make homemade dog food?
The benefits of homemade dog food are maximized by considering cooking methods. It is recommended to always cook meats, fish and poultry to avoid transmission of parasites. They can also be grilled. Of course, we have to remove all those bones capable of producing obstructions. Although there are types of homemade dog diets that offer raw foods, such as the BARF diet, we cannot always guarantee that the products are in optimal condition and, therefore, we recommend that you cook or freeze food beforehand.
Foods containing lactose, like milk or cheese, can cause diarrhea, so we need to control their consumption or, in obvious cases of lactose intolerance, remove them from the diet. So we will need to plan our dog’s diet to make sure he is balanced. We can prepare it, freeze it and remove it as needed, which will facilitate daily logistics.
To enhance the flavor of the dishes, we have the possibility of incorporating beneficial spices for dogs such as turmeric, oregano, rosemary or thyme. Olive oil is also indicated due to its dermoprotective, antioxidant and digestive properties, so we can serve homemade dog food with splashes.